Fuji FinePix X10 £548

11th Oct 2012 | 13:49

Fuji FinePix X10

A retro, rangefinder styled compact for enthusiasts

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

Like:

Premium build quality; Excellent handling; Optical viewfinder; Bright, clear screen; Good ISO performance for a compact;

Dislike:

No marking in the viewfinder; Fiddly bezel on the rear; Weak built in flash;

Introduction

Updated: We've now subjected the Fuji X10 to a long-term test, and have updated our review with the results. Read the 'Second opinion' page to see how we got on.

Fuji created quite a stir when it released its FinePix X100 in March 2011. The combination of a retro-styled metal body, APS-C sized sensor, fixed 23mm f/2 lens and a unique hybrid viewfinder caused plenty of interest among enthusiast and professional photographers alike.

Now Fuji's X10 sits below the X100 in the range, sporting similar retro styling, but sacrificing the large APS-C sensor and fixed lens in favour of a 2/3-inch EXR CMOS sensor and a 4x zoom lens providing an angle of view equivalent to a 28-112mm lens on a 35mm camera.

fuji finepix x10 review

An impressively bright maximum aperture of f/2-2.8 has been achieved and the zoom is operated manually, carrying on the retro theme.

A positive point to glean from this specification is that the price is much more modest. Costing around £320/AU$635/US$550 at current selling prices, it is much more reasonably priced than its bigger brother, so it will be interesting to see how it fares when it comes to image quality.

Fuji's EXR CMOS technology uses a different pixel arrangement to conventional image sensors. This enables the camera to either take pictures at the full 12MP resolution, or to combine neighbouring pixels to increase image quality in low light conditions.

fuji finepix x10 review

Another trick that this unique sensor can pull off is to enable neighbouring pixels to take images at two different ISO sensitivities simultaneously, enabling images with much greater dynamic range to be captured, without having to take multiple frames.

An EXR Auto mode automatically recognises which EXR configuration should give the best results under the conditions, or each mode can be selected manually.

Fuji X10 review

Other features include 1080p video recording and continuous shooting at frame rates up to 7fps, which should be perfect for capturing action.

Enthusiasts will be glad to find that the Fuji FinePix X10 can also record images in Fuji's RAF raw format, providing extra scope for editing images afterwards. This is a high-end compact camera alright. But the question is, how much editing will you need to do with images from the Fuji X10?

What is the picture quality like compared to rivals such as the Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7100, and even the older brother, the Fuji X100?

Build quality and handling

The chunky black metal body of the Fuji FinePix X10 is reassuringly well put together and the retro styling doesn't stop at the way the camera looks. A smart leatherette finish has been applied around the middle, providing a firm and comfortable grip over the camera body.

Controls are laid out in a mixture of retro and contemporary ways. Exposure modes and compensation are selected using chunky metal dials on top of the camera, with the shutter release placed in between. A threaded socket for attaching a cable release is inset into the shutter release, which is a feature rarely seen on modern cameras.

The rear has the controls you might expect to find on a typical digital compact camera, with four buttons along the side of the 460,000 dot 2.8-inch LCD screen and a directional/navigation control to the other side.

fuji finepix x10 review

Two control dials for altering exposure provide direct access to any adjustments you may wish to apply. The thumb wheel placed near the top plate is very easy to operate, but the bezel-style ring placed around the buttons on the rear can be a little fiddly to use by comparison.

Images can be composed either on the LCD screen or in the optical viewfinder. The screen is bright, clear and has an excellent anti-reflective coating applied, which helps when using the camera in bright conditions.

The Fuji FinePix X10's viewfinder is also very bright and clear, plus unusually for a digital compact camera, it provides a decent sized view and is quite comfortable to use with glasses.

fuji x10 review

Unfortunately there are no markings in the viewfinder to signify where the focus point may be, even when it is fixed to the centre, so confirming sharp focus through the viewfinder is a matter of guesswork.

Still, it is quite useful when shooting in bright conditions at moderate apertures, where much of the scene will be in focus.

Located next to the viewfinder is a switch to activate the built-in flash unit, which sits flush inside the top plate of the camera. The flash is very small, but is still useful for occasional fill in.

fuji x10 review

For situations where more demands are made of the flash, a standard hotshoe is provided. This enables Fuji's EF-42 and EF-20 TTL flashguns to be mounted and as it is a standard hotshoe, a wide range of accessories can be used, including wireless triggering systems or studio lights with an adaptor.

Flash can be synced at any shutter speed, right the way up to 1/4000sec, which may be of particular interest to those who use flash in bright conditions for creative effect.

In use, the Fuji FinePix X10 feels very responsive. Autofocus is quick and accurate under most conditions, although it can sometimes struggle to lock onto subjects in low light conditions. Once the camera is focused, there is little noticeable shutter lag.

Fuji X10 review

Menus are clear and easy to navigate too. The quick response and handling of the camera can be attributed to the dual-CPU EXR processor, which has two separate processing cores, just like you may find in many modern computers.

Even when shooting raw images, there is very little waiting around for the camera to catch up, especially when a suitable high-speed SD card is used.

Performance

Images produced by the Fuji FinePix X10 are rich and detailed at most ISO sensitivities. Significant levels of noise don't start to show until ISO 800, and even then any speckling is only visible on close inspection. ISO 1600 produces perfectly printable results too.

Although some fine detail is lost to noise reduction, prints up to A4 should still be perfectly acceptable. Even at higher ISO sensitivities, noise levels are admirably well-controlled, even though more and more fine detail is sacrificed.

Above ISO 3200, the camera reduces image resolution in an attempt to retain image quality. ISO 6400 is still acceptable for small prints and sharing on the web, but ISO 12800 may be a step too far, with most fine detail being smudged beyond recognition by the camera's noise reduction system and images having a general snowy appearance.

fuji finepix x10 review

Using the available EXR modes can improve image quality, depending on the scene. Using the low-light EXR mode tends enable acceptable quality images to be taken at sensitivities a stop higher than without, up to ISO 3200 and the Dynamic Range mode does an excellent job of retaining extra detail in highlight and shadow areas, although it isn't quite as effective in very bright conditions.

fuji finepix x10 review

As is typical for a Fuji camera, colours are vibrant on the Fuji FinePix X10 using default settings. Film simulation modes to recreate the look of Fuji's Velvia, Astia and Provia films are provided and cover most shooting scenarios, with Provia being the default setting.

fuji finepix x10 review

The Velvia mode produces vivid colours best suited to scenic shots, and the Astia mode produces subtle tones well and is best suited to portraiture. Auto white balance does an excellent job in natural lighting, and a fair job under artificial lights indoors, leaving a slight colour cast in the image.

fuji finepix x10 review

Multi-segment metering produces accurate exposures under a wide range of conditions and isn't easily fooled by large areas of light or dark in the image. Centre-weighted and spot metering modes are also provided and the direct access to exposure compensation and manual exposure adjustments makes these modes a pleasure to use.

Image quality and resolution

Our results from the lab have been compared against the Fujifilm X100, Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7100, all top of the range compact cameras from their respective manufacturers.

As part of our image quality testing for the Fuji X10, we've shot our resolution chart.

If you view our crops of the resolution chart's central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 200 the Fujifilm X10 is capable of resolving up to around 22 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.

For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them please take a look at the resolution charts article.

Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:

Fuji X10 review

JPEG images

Fuji X10 review

ISO 100, score: 22 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 200, score: 22 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 400, score: 20 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 800, score: 20 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 1600, score: 20 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 3200, score: 18 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 6400, score: 14 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 12800, score: n/a (see full image)

Raw images

Fuji X10 review

ISO 100, score: 22 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 200, score: 22 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 400, score: 20 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 800, score: 20 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 1600, score: 20 (see full image)

Fuji X10 review

ISO 3200, score: 18 (see full image)

Noise and dynamic range

We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using the DXO Analyzer software to generate the data for the graphs below.

For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.

JPEG signal to noise ratio

A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.

Fuji X10 review

JPEG images from the Fujifilm X10 show signal to noise ratio results that are on par with the Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7100, and are better than the X100 from around ISO 800.

Raw signal to noise ratio

Fuji X10 review

Raw images (after conversion to TIFF) from the Fujifilm X10 have a better signal to noise ratio than the Canon PowerShot G12. Meanwhile, the Nikon Coolpix P7100 just beats the Fujifilm X10 from a sensitivity of ISO 800 upwards, but the difference in scores is exceptionally small.

The benefit of the Fuji X100's APS-C sized sensor comes to bear here as its raw files produce a cleaner signal than the other cameras.

JPEG dynamic range

Fuji X10 review

This chart shows that the Fujifilm X10's JPEGs capture a wide tonal range up to a sensitivity of ISO 1600, at higher sensitivities some of the tonal range in the shadows and highlights will be lost.

Raw dynamic range

Fuji X10 review

This chart indicates that the Fujifilm X10's raw images (after conversion to TIFF) capture a wide tonal range across the sensitivity range, comfortably out performing both the Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7100. As we would expect given its larger sensor size, the Fujifilm X100 manages to outperform the Fujifilm X10's dynamic range performance.

Our analysis shows that all four cameras produce good results, but the X10's raw files (after conversion to TIFF) are on par for signal to noise ratio with the Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7100.

When it comes to dynamic range, however, the raw file (after conversion to TIFF) results show that the Fujifilm X10 is capable of capturing a greater tonal range than both the Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7100.

Sample images

Fuji X10 review

A standard ISO hotshoe allows external flash accessories to be attached to the Fuji FinePix X10, which can expand creative possibilities.

See full-res image

fuji finepix x10 review

Detail levels are excellent and images are sharp straight from the camera.

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fuji finepix x10 review

The EXR low light mode improves high ISO quality for shooting in dark conditions.

See full-res image

fuji finepix x10 review

The built-in flash is weak, but still useful for fill-in at close quarters.

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fuji finepix x10 review

See full-res image

fuji finepix x10 review

Multi-segment metering copes well in a wide range of conditions.

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fuji finepix x10 review

Colours are vivid, without over saturating skin tones.

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fuji finepix x10 review

The standard film simulation mode aims to reproduce the look of Fuji Provia slide film.

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fuji finepix x10 review

Whereas the vivid setting aims to reproduce Fuji Velvia slide film, with its highly saturated colours.

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fuji finepix x10 review

A Super-Macro mode allows focusing as close as 1cm from the front element of the lens.

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fuji finepix x10 review

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fuji finepix x10 review

Shutter speeds between 1/4000sec and 30sec can be selected.

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fuji finepix x10 review

In-lens image stabilisation helps to reduce image blurring due to unwanted camera movement.

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fuji finepix x10 review

Auto white balance does a reasonable, but not spectacular, job of correcting artificial lighting indoors.

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More sample images

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji X10 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Sensitivity and noise

Fuji X10 review

Full ISO 100 image. See the cropped (zoomed to 100%) versions below.

Fuji x10 review iso 100

ISO 100

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Fuji x10 review iso 200

ISO 200

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Fuji x10 review iso 400

ISO 400

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Fuji x10 review iso 800

ISO 800

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Fuji x10 review iso 1600

ISO 1600

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Fuji x10 review iso 3200

ISO 3200

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Fuji x10 review iso 6400

ISO 6400

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Fuji x10 review iso 12800

ISO 12800

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Second opinion

Mark Sparrow's long-term test

TechRadar prides itself on producing some of the most comprehensive digital camera reviews with the latest state-of-the-art testing software and rigorous optical tests to measure any given camera's performance with great precision.

We also take great care to reflect the real-world experience of using the camera being reviewed. Gary Wolstenholme did just that with the Fujifilm X10 compact camera, and provided a glowing original review.

We've now tested the camera under extended real-world conditions. The advantage of living with a camera for a whole week and using it as your only camera for an important occasion such as a family trip or a wedding can provide a real insight. And so it was as we packed the Fuji X10 into our rucksack and set off for a week-long break in the Frisian Islands, off the northern coast of Germany.

Since we were travelling light, the Fuji X10 seemed the perfect choice, promising high-quality images in a super compact format but with plenty of manual control and options to enable us to shoot some great views and landscapes.

fuji finepix x10 review

Without any other camera to fall back on, the Fuji X10 was tested to its limits, since we were determined to get some really good shots.

The good news is that Gary was spot on in his assessment of the Fuji X10 as a thoroughly capable performer in terms of handling, construction and image quality.

However, our week with the camera did turn up a few points worth noting that you might only discover when trying to shoot a panorama on a windswept beach at dawn.

Handling

First of all, let's talk about the handling. The Fuji X10 is a joy to hold. It fits perfectly in the hand and, even better, it's a camera that you can use to shoot with one hand.

For travel photography, when you often need to grab quick opportunistic shots, that's a real bonus. We use a walking stick, so being able to shoot one-handed is very important.

The Fuji X10 feels so solid and it is such a good-looking camera that we were stopped several times by complete strangers anxious to know exactly what it was.

Another aspect that we particularly appreciated was the large EV compensation dial on the right of the Fuji X10's top-plate: no messing around with fiddly menus trying to get, say, a half-stop increase or decrease in the exposure.

fuji finepix x10 review

In fact, we'd go so far as to say that the EV dial is one of the Fuji X10's best features. The reason we say this is that the Fuji X10 is a photographer's camera; it's not a point-and-shoot camera if you really want to squeeze all the performance that it has to offer. It's like driving a manual sports car that needs handling, care and skill to get the best from it.

So, if you're used to shooting in P-mode then you really will have to monitor the EV values closely, either using the built-in histogram display or by learning the Fuji X10's response and characteristics.

In general the Fuji X10's controls are really well laid out, and nice touches such as the electronic level gauge made shooting seascapes and horizons far easier.

Performance

The manual zoom with its 28-112mm range is great for most travel photography, but if we were being really picky we'd have preferred a 28-200mm range, since sometimes the Fuji X10 just can't pull you in close enough to get a shot.

For this reason, don't even think about using it for wildlife photography, because you simply won't get the results you're looking for.

Fuji X10 review

The lens itself is great, with very little distortion of any kind, and the wide angle is perfect for shooting two or three shots to stitch together into a panorama. Or if that doesn't appeal, then there is a built-in panoramic function that works remarkably well.

One drawback of the manual zoom is a tendency for it to suck dust inside the lens, and by the end of our week's shoot we did notice a couple of large specks on the inside of the front element.

That's a bit disappointing, but a perhaps a necessary trade off in having such a great analogue feel to taking and framing shots with precision.

As far as colours go, the Fuji X10 is a star performer, with a choice of three colour film simulation modes mimicking Provia, Velvia and Astia emulsions. We largely stuck to the Provia version, since it seemed to offer an excellent balance between subtlety and saturation.

Fuji X10 review

If you shoot in the Fuji X10's raw mode then that probably won't bother you, but because we stuck to shooting JPEGs we wanted the colours to be fairly predictable, since altering things later could be difficult.

The white balance performance is pretty much spot-on in most circumstances, just as Gary reported, so we didn't even need to venture into custom settings or presets, and stuck to shooting away in Auto.

But when it comes to metering we did have a few problems. Perhaps it was those wide-open Frisian skies, but at least 50 per cent of the time we found ourselves making adjustments with the EV compensation dial.

You must be careful when assessing exposures, because the Fuji X10's screen has a tendency to flatter the photographer with some great-looking shots when previewing, but the images look slightly more muted in colour and flatter in exposure when viewed on the computer.

fuji finepix x10 review

For this reason, we started to use the optical viewfinder far more often, because we didn't wanted to be beguiled by that bright and colourful screen. And since we wear glasses, we found the bright viewfinder much easier to use.

One last point to mention at this juncture is the start up time of the Fuji X10.In our experience, turning the Fuji X10 on by twisting the lens resulted in a wait of a second or two while the sensor adjusted to bright light. This might be due to the Fuji X10's bright f/2.0 aperture, which may take a while to stop down and adjust to brighter light.

On the plus side, that's a handy feature if you're shooting in low light. We did plenty of shooting in the dim light of dusk, but never felt the need to push the ISO higher than the ISO 400 Auto setting, thanks to that lovely wide aperture.

So the Fuji X10 offers great image quality, superb handling and a real engagement with the subject you're photographing thanks to that retro analogue feel.

Results

However, the Fuji X10's battery life can be a bit weedy. Frankly, without a spare battery we wouldn't be confident of going out for a whole day's shooting, and since the recharge time is around four hours, it's probably advisable to carry a spare.

One spare you won't need is a memory card. We took an 8GB SDHC card for the week and still had plenty of space left over, even after 600 shots.

fuji finepix x10 review

Obviously if you're shooting in raw then you will find that capacity comes down considerably, but the efficiency with which the Fuji X10 stores JPEGs makes it the ideal travelling companion.

At the end of or week we had around 65 processed shots (see the 'More sample images' page of this Fuji X10 review to see some of them) that we were really pleased with - a far higher figure than we could ever hope to achieve with a conventional compact camera.

We loved the fact that we could have similar control and image quality to a DSLR, but without the bulk. Obviously the zoom is limited, but we found that just challenged our creativity and worked within that limitation.

Using the Fuji X10 is like experiencing the thrill of a film camera for the first time, and greatly enhanced our week's photo safari. Like the end of our break, we're sorry to see it go.

Verdict

Just as it did with the FinePix X100, Fuji has managed to make a camera with the Fuji FinePix X10 that not only looks the part, but delivers on image quality and handling too.

The well-constructed metal body is robust, easy to use and looks very smart too.

Image quality is as good as any high-end compact camera can deliver at the moment, especially if the EXR modes are used to their strengths, although the zoom is limited and battery life is a little short.

We liked

A premium build and retro design complement the excellent handling and image quality offered by the Fuji X10 perfectly.

We disliked

There is very little to dislike about the Fuji X10. If the bezel on the rear was a bit more substantial and the viewfinder had marking for a central focusing point, these would be welcome improvements. The zoom could do with being longer, and the battery life is weak.

Final verdict

Enthusiasts and even beginners who are in the market for a high-quality compact camera shouldn't be disappointed by what the Fuji FinePix X10 has to offer.

Although it is priced a little high when compared to cameras such as the Canon Powershot G12 or Nikon P7100, it looks, feels and handles like a premium product, and is priced accordingly.

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